#LOTRO #Mooc Week 4

I have to admit, not being a gamer or having no experience whatsoever with MMORPGs, would make it quite difficult to accomplish this week’s task. We were asked to compare three mediums – book, movie and game – regarding the scene that takes place atop the Weathertop mountain.

 

 

To make it to Weathertop in-game one must first complete Book 2, Chapters 1-4  from the epic quest chain, which involve level 22-25 nasty orcs and birds in the area.Then you get to form a fellowship and enter the instance “Retake Weathertop”. As proof of having done the game part of the assessment, we were also asked to post a screenshot of our adventures. Uiril – my char(acter)- made it thanks to the help of my wonderful kinship, Eagles of Thorondor at the Meneldor server. This is a guild which boasts plenty of Coursera members and has people from the previous course session participating as well.

Weathertop. In-game.

Weathertop. In-game.

 

Weathertop. Film

Weathertop. Film

Truth is that without having help from a decent guild / kinship in most MMORPGs, one is missing the whole point. Raids, instances, dungeons, everything revolves around parties making a decent effort together. There are those who like to “solo” – even when things are not meant to be soloable – and those who turn to “pugs”, i.e. random grouping with strangers via the game’s AI. However, the latter is often disappointing and/or frustrating. Hence, the social aspect of MMORPGs (discussed in weeks 2 & 3) is indeed all about finding other people to play with; people with whom you can actually communicate and get the job done.

As for this week’s assignment, I submitted the following:

Option One: Write an essay that compares the scene in the novel, the film, and the game with respect to one of the following aspects: the actions or events in the scene; how characterization occurs; dialogue; setting / mise en scène / game space; point-of-view; and your experience of reading, viewing, and interacting with the scene. Include a screenshot of your character’s experience at Weathertop in LOTRO.

 LOTRO Threefold: Tolkien’s Weathertop scene across film and game

J.R.R. Tolkien has Strider describe Weathertop to Sam as a hill that “commands a wide view all around.” [Tolkien 2012: p. 471-472, 499]  Thus, the fellowship heads for that vantage point in hope of finding Gandalf there and assess how they will continue their perilous journey. Upon the hill, however, traces of “cloaked and booted Riders” [p. 513] caused much despair to the Hobbits, for it seemed that the enemy has been here. Strider informs the group of their abilities and heightened senses [p. 514-515]  as well as reminds them that fire can prove to be an exceptional weapon,since “these Riders do not love it and fear those who wield it” [p.515]. Interestingly, Peter Jackson opts for presenting fire as a fatal mistake that Sam, Pippin and Merry commit in order to satisfy their hunger; Frodo wakes up from his slumber only to yell at the starving Hobbits “What are you doing? Put it out, you fools, put it out! “. The panoramic shot of Weathertop with a tiny lit spot from the camp fire validates Frodo’s fears. The Nazgul know that someone is there; their shrieking sound fills the air, approaching from the misty foot of the hill.

Kinship Members, Eagles of Thorondor @Meneldor Server

Kinship Members, Eagles of Thorondor @Meneldor Server

In the book, Strider has not left them. In contrast, they all sit around that same camp fire telling stories like the tale of Tinuviel [p. 519] and trying to stay warm. Suddenly they feel them coming – just as Strider said it happens with humans – and under Strider’s command they gather close to the fire with their faces outward. [p. 527] Jackson does portray the chilling shrieks and the ominous look of the five dark figures true to the original, even when Frodo puts on the ring and sees them for what they truly are. Terror overcoming the Hobbits is also evident, though Sam is first to fall in the movie, not shrinking to Frodo’s side, as stated in the book. [p. 528] The director also retains Frodo’s desperate eagerness to put on the ring and Elijah Wood captures Frodo’s agony when “a pain like a dart of poisoned ice” [p. 530]pierced his left shoulder. The Elven words Frodo uses in the book to scare them away are not used in the movie. Finally, Strider appears out of nowhere in the film to save the day with lit torches, setting the enemy ablaze. The book’s final scene presents Frodo clenching the ring in his right fist, again as in the movie. Peter Jackson however gives Viggo  Mortensen plenty of screen time battling the forces of evil. Aragorn concludes that Frodo needs Elven medicine for his wound because it’s beyond his skills ; Nevertheless, in the book there is a whole chapter where he exhibits some knowledge of medicinal plants and offers the young Hobbit a mixture of Athelas himself [p. 534] Notably, Jackson’ s touch of having the blade vanish into thin air like  smoke is inspired by the book [p.534].

Fighting the troll.

Fighting the troll.

Regarding the game, the narrative involved fails to become a loyal reenactment of the scene. After having received Book 2, Chapter 5 quest from Candaith the Ranger in his camp, the player and his fellowship are being transported to the foot of the mountain. Battling mostly orcs and goblins along the way, the party makes it to the top where an elite mob, a gigantic troll, appears. Despite observing many scenery details that closely resembled both the book’s and film’s venue, the instance itself felt more like a boring fight (probably due to the fact that my kinmates were high-leveled and it was relatively too easy). Still, there was some agony felt when battling the last boss but the pressure was on me personally so as not to make a mistake in combat. Given these facts, my reaction to the finale of the instance, sharing the “job well done” moment with the kinship members almost reminded me of the first time I watched Aragorn saving the day: rejoice.

References:

The Lord of the Rings Online. Westwood, MA: Turbine, 2014. Computer game.

The Lord of the Rings the Fellowship of the Ring. New Line Home Entertainment, 2001. DVD.

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings. Boston: Mariner /Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. E-Pub. 10 Aug. 2014.

 

***Screenshot from the game – Kinship:Eagles of Thorondor – Server: Meneldor – Character: Uiril, Elf Hunter

ScreenShot00018

 

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#LOTRO #MOOC Weeks 2 & 3

Moving on with this summer’s gaming Mooc at Coursera involved leveling the character I created in LOTRO. Due to lack of time I managed to take it up to level 17. That meant being able to buy a house of my own – yeah!! –  as well as spending the amount of Turbine points I gained through gameplay to purchase the riding skill. Still, no riding horse at the moment, I am afraid. I am also trying to figure out the auction house dealings; things in World of Warcraft were so much easier, in my opinion… Please note that for week 4, you need to be a level 20ish player to accomplish the peer assessment tasks, so it’s best to level up well in advance. Anyway, here’s a screenshot of my lovely house:

ScreenShot00006

 

During questing, especially when it came to instances joined by other NPCs, some glitches were present but nothing too problematic. The narrative in the game draws ample reference from the books and Tolkien lore, something which renders the gameplay enjoyable. Still the tedious “kill 20 boars” and “fetch 20 bat feathers” tend to spoil the fun. Moreover, I found storage options rather frustrating. Apart from your bags, you will soon see your bank slots and house vault filling up quickly.  Now, here’s a screenshot from a rather tricky quest:

ScreenShot00002

 

The summer festival was on during the second week, so we were given the chance to opt for a screenshot in those surroundings. The other option was to participate in our kinship’s fixed gatherings which took place twice so as to accommodate the needs of almost all kinship members. I chose option 1, because I couldn’t make it to the kinship games:

 

ScreenShot00010

 

Furthermore, we were tasked with writing a short essay on the topic of the social aspect of MMORPGs. During week 3, peer assessment ensued and that meant having to review 3 such essays along with their screenshots and proof of gameplay. Here is my take on the subject:

 

Write an essay (200 to 400 words) on your impression of the social dimension of MMOs.  If you’ve played other types of online games (shooters, RPGs, etc.), feel free to compare the nature of the social interactions you’ve had in these formats. Do social interactions enhance or diminish your experience of the narrative? Do you feel a bond with other players, and if so, how would you compare that relationship to others in real life?

 

 

The social aspect of MMMORPGs – a short testimonial

Being a gamer in pop culture is at times depicted as having “no-life”.  Unfortunately, a gamer is commonly regarded as rather being anti-social, kept in a confined room all day and having minimum contact with peers by many. Questionably, MMORPGs, such as World of Warcraft or LOTRO immerse the player in a virtual environment so much, that interactions seem “fake” or simulated to the outsider.

Speaking from personal experience, not only is this not the case, but recent scientific studies have also shown that online gaming is increasing, not limiting, the social lives of players (Taylor et al. 2014). The nature of social interactions in-game is mostly chatting or what one would call “small talk”. Interacting in a virtual massive world with complete strangers means wasting no time, however. Therefore, most of these discussions are usually practical or helpful ways of understanding gameplay, e.g. asking for advice regarding a particular quest. Nevertheless, once part of a kinship or a guild, the framework rapidly changes to sharing more personal insights on one’s life and daily routine. In essence, you make “friends” within the game and much to one’s surprise these friendships can be long-lasting and profound. It so happens that often social relationships of the kind extend to real life circumstances; people from game communities meet up in person, even when they hail from different countries.

Room with a view... The landscape around my house in LOTRO

Room with a view… The landscape around my house in LOTRO

The experience of the narrative in-game is often enhanced by virtual social gatherings like large-scale raids. Taking down a “boss”, takes a lot of energy, effort and explaining, thus  all members of a party must be up to speed, whom they are fighting and why. In addition, people extend their knowledge of lore and storytelling to people outside the game, describing their gaming experience much like they would do with a movie or a TV series. In retrospect, talking within the game becomes talking “about” it, as well, influencing relationships to others in real life, regardless whether they are themselves gamers or not.

References

Taylor, N., Jenson, J., de Castell, S. and Dilouya, B. (2014), Public Displays of Play: Studying Online Games in Physical Settings. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 19: 763–779. doi: 10.1111/jcc4.12054

#Which: the issue of #gender in games and game #audience

{Posted as #rgmooc week 6 co-op}

The game “Which” offers a compelling gaming experience, effectively taking advantage of blurry visuals and two equally jaw dropping ending alternatives to create a dark atmosphere, paying homage to the horror / splatter genre. Along with its undeniable effectiveness, when it comes to delivering game content successfully, the narrative poses plenty of questions concerning  female character portrayal.

**spoilers**

Should the player find the key that leads to the room containing the dead body’s heart, the headless corpse decides to sacrifice itself to the benefit of the player, as the symbols written on the wall demand that only one of them shall eventually leave the premises. If, on the other hand, the player comes across the “head” first, the body becomes a ruthless female figure that stabs the player – one too many times – to ensure her own survival.

In both cases, one cannot fail to discern two extreme  predominant notions of a game character:  benevolent, caring, sensitive and life-giving, even to her own demise or sadistic, opportunistic and selfish. To serve the game’s purpose, heart over mind or vice versa becomes absolute. To procede with the analysis further, the “heart” ending hinges on the somewhat stereotypical notion of motherhood in the outside world; emotional and self-sacrificing, heroic and tragic at the same time. The ruthlessness of the “head” ending made many players scream out of horror for the unexpected.

Violent women and female characters killing off their opponents is certainly not a novelty in the gaming world, especially in MMO RPGs. “Which” captures the look of a wicked looking woman, determined to save herself by virtually slicing the player open. One could possibly insinuate that this is the “male” aggresiveness coming forth, of which the gaming industry is to blame. Games do allow for unperceived freedoms, concerning character depiction, environment and storyline. Taken to an extreme, violence is a relatively shocking, yet indispensable element of game narrative, especially for this type of genre. How is it that we would expect a male NPC to brutally kill players, yet we cringe in front of a woman doing so? Cyberspace enables game designers to form worlds “where gender is fluid and multiple“, hence taking a considerable amount of liberties; still the average gamer feels safer in a “gendered environment […], more more stringent and rigid than in real life” ( Christensen, 50)

What about the female audience playing this game?  The haunting effect of the game constitutes a persuasive rhetoric, regarding logic and emotion. If you have a heart, you ‘ll save others; if you don’t you ‘ll save yourself.  Thus, it is not a question of a female audience (that sounds awfully biased) but a matter of audience perception in general. People might become emotional with the sacrifice of the NPC, regardless if they are men or women playing the game. Others might feel vindictive against the cold hearted stabbing regime. It all depends on the gamer’s personality, not his /her gender.

Presenting the exact opposite choices, both endings call for a brutal dilemma: “Which” one will you come across?

Works cited:

Christensen, Natasha Chen. “Geeks at Play: Doing Masculinity in an Online Gaming Site.”Reconstruction 6.1. N.p., Jan.-Feb. 2006. Web. 15 Aug. 2013. <http://reconstruction.eserver.org/061/christensen.shtml&gt;.

Inel, Mike. Which. Computer game. Gamejolt.com. Vers. 3D. Lucent Web Creative, LLC, n.d. Web. 15 Aug. 2013. <http://gamejolt.com/games/adventure/which/1523/&gt;

“#DontStarve” #game: #Pathos over human survival instincts.

{Posted as #rgmooc week 7 co-op}

Appealing to one’s soft side is every creator’s ultimate goal, when it comes to entertainment. Hollywood may boast on gross revenues from major blockbusters; a movie that is critically acclaimed and considered to be a “great” film, however is an entirely different business. Just like in all things entertainment, the same applies to songs, works of art and even games. As Joseph Butler-Hartley eloquently describes this,

…the greatest feature a piece of art can have is the ability to provoke emotions” (zero1gaming.com).

The moment one transcends the boundaries of game mechanics and play, the instant when feelings blend in and influence game choices is when pathos holds the reign. It’s then and there that the game designer has achieved greatness.

Experiencing the game “Don’t Starve” is actually true to its title. The survival genre calls for decisions that ultimately simulate tough choices, cold logic and strategic planning. Personally , according to my “green” environmental credo, guilt plagued a lot of my actions. Although I didn’t hesitate to make my – otherwise perfect – gentleman torch a couple of trees, in order to be able to see, when darkness fell, I soon feared I might start a fire (also that trees are extremely flammable when approached by fire, but that insinuates I should recheck my brain functions). I also realised that my first and foremost priority was to eat anything my avatar could get its hands on: from seeds and petals to butterfly wings. I felt happy that Willson could fill up its stomach depositories (a clever illustration of game feedback, to be honest) and yet I really pitied every creature that I laid my hands on, so I could prove I was top of the food chain. Birdies in particular were too cute to become prey (and annoyingly evasive I might add).

Playing the fifteen minute demo is hardly time enough to assess the majestic Tim Burtonish atmosphere of “Don’t Starve“. Nevertheless, I managed to dwell in a compelling storyline within those minutes. Still my emotional responses weren’t enough to keep me from sacrificing my basic survival instincts. Scientist Wilson eventually killed that pretty little butterfly; I felt remorseful, of course, and yet I chose to comply with the game rules. I didn’t “feel” a certain bond reflected in my avatar. I just knew I had to do certain things to beat the game, no matter how they would seem in real life circumstances. I did sympathize with my struggling little human; does sympathy qualify for pathos? Hardly.

That is where the plot thickens. Violence in-game leaves the player with a strange gut feeling but in the end it’s overshadowed by the ultimate game goals – you need to kill lots of enemies / zombies, etc. in FPS and similar genres in order to survive. Does anyone regret that? Did anyone stop to think how cruel our characters are or how many critters we have killed in MMOs? Until we discover a way to create

…interactive dramas where it’s possible to form deep, friendships with virtual characters” (Loftus)

we have a long way from achieving Pathos in the game entertainment industry (with the exception of Lady Croft, perhaps…).

Works cited:

Butler-Hartley, Joseph. “Art, Gaming and First-Person Emotions.” Www.Zero1Gaming.com. Zero1Gaming, 27 Mar. 2013. Web. 14 July 2013. <http://www.zero1gaming.com/2013/03/27/art-gaming-first-person-emotions/&gt;.

Don’t Starve. PC game. Vers. Demo. Kle

Entertainment, n.d. Web. 14 July 2013. .

Loftus, Tom. “Bringing Emotions to Video Games.” Msnbc.com. Nbcnews.com, 10 Nov. 2005. Web. 14 July 2013. <http://www.nbcnews.com/id/4038606/ns/technology_and_science-games/t/bringing-emotions-video-games/&gt;

#CLOUD: presenting persuasive #rhetoric in a #game

 A rhetorical situation occurs when an author, an audience, and a context come together

and a persuasive message is communicated through some medium.

(OWL purdue)

{posted as #rgmooc week 3 co-op}

Introduction

The game CLOUD features a dreamy landscape, where a boy, flying through the air, manages to collect clouds and then use them to create various shapes or induce rain upon a heavily polluted city (puzzle / adventure free-to-play PC game).  The game was created by students at the University of Southern California in 2005 and by 2006 this indie game amassed huge admiration and a considerable amount of downloads.  Journey‘s Jenova (Xinghan) Chen is credited as the lead designer of CLOUD, which was inspired by the creator’s childhood memories; as a child he suffered from asthma and spent a lot of his days in a hospital daydreaming, much like the boy in the game (Wikipedia “Cloud“).

Audience

Thatgamecompany“, which was created by the founders of CLOUD shortly after their graduation, made it clear that their target player body are the so-called “core” gamers, meaning that CLOUD is not intended for the average hardcore or casual gamer alone; preferably even a non gamer would appreciate its artistic concept and serene minimalistic design. It doesn’t take too much of your time to grasp the basics – the first stage is perceived as a tutorial –  and the actual focus is rather on creating emotion and a “powerful interactive experience” (Thatgamecompany, “About” section). Chen himself quoted the necessity of creating “mature” games (gamesindustry.biz) that have little to do with short-term lasting, basic instincts, such as enthusiasm or rage, which mostly apply to teen gamers; instead, the game industry ought to seek enhancing its emotional rhetoric to adults by fortifying game elements accordingly . A game can become a work of art and have similar impact as a good film or an exceptional painting. That, according to Chen is not only art but also entertainment in its purest, most long-lasting form:

“what I realized during the development of Cloud was that entertainment is about feelings”. (Gamasutra)

Game mechanics and elements

To achieve attracting primarily a non gamer, adult audience, CLOUD employs several game elements that contribute to structuring a beautiful, escapism dreamland. Music ought to be mentioned first, since the exquisite sound of Vincent Diamante achieves supreme levels of eliciting feelings. Flying through the air becomes something more than a childhood fantasy; it literally relocates the player to a domain free of angst and hardships.  Despite the simplicity of in-game graphics – it was after all a student project – the design is up to par, with a clever exploitation of light and dark shades to symbolise “friendly” clouds vs rainbringers. Nevertheless the strongest advantage of this endeavor is the narrative itself. The boy is held up in a tedious, depressing hospital room much like we are trapped in a daily routine; his only wish is to fly, something to which any child or adult can easily relate. The touching connotation of the boy’s illness, clouds being presented as “friends” and the original motto of the game – “Let’s make more friends” – raise expectations for a social message, larger than life. Chen and his team prove that constructing a successful narrative can make games tell a story in a most artistic – dramatic even – way. Thus, narrative aimed at arousing human emotions becomes a core game mechanic, rendering CLOUD an “art game” to be emulated.  As Brice puts it:

If game mechanics are meant to provide players with experiences such as fun and anxiety,

then narrative actually is a game mechanic, as much as game mechanics can also be narrative elements. (popmatters.com)

Consequently, it would seem that mature or non gamer audiences deem persuasive narratology and rhetoric as key to opt for a well designed gaming experience. CLOUD is definetely one of those.

Works cited:

“About.” Thatgamecompany. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Aug. 2013. <http://web.archive.org/web/20100723142221/http://thatgamecompany.com/about/&gt;.

Brice, Mattie. “Narrative Is a Game Mechanic.” Web Blog post. PopMatters.com PopMatters Media, Inc., 31 Jan. 2012. Web. 15 Aug. 2013. <http://www.popmatters.com/pm/post/153895-narrative-is-a-game-mechanic/&gt;.

“Cloud Game.” Cloud Game. The Division of Interactive Media at the University of Southern California School of Cinema and Television, 2005. Web. 15 Aug. 2013. <http://interactive.usc.edu/projects/cloud/game.htm&gt;.

“Cloud (video Game).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 14 Apr. 2013. Web. 15 Aug. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_(video_game)&gt;

Irwin, Mary Jane. “The Beautiful Game.” GamesIndustry International. Eurogamer Network Ltd, 19 Feb. 2009. Web. 15 Aug. 2013. <http://web.archive.org/web/20090429105251/http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/the-beautiful-game&gt;.

Kumar, Mathew. “Thatgamecompany’s Chen On How Emotion Can Evolve Games.”Gamasutra.com. UBM TechWeb, 15 July 2009. Web. 15 Aug. 2013. <http://web.archive.org/web/20100810013800/http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/24442/Develop_2009_Thatgamecompanys_Chen_On_How_Emotion_Can_Evolve_Games.php&gt;.

Pepper, Mark, Allen Brizee, and Elizabeth Angeli. “Elements of Analysis.” OWL Purdue Online Writing Lab. Purdue University, 30 Sept. 2010. Web. 15 Aug. 2013. <http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/725/02/&gt;.

Retrieved 15th August 2013 from http://interactive.usc.edu/projects/cloud/

Ninja Zombies: Why #gamers like to #game

Crafting an effective Writer: Tools of the trade {MSJC / Coursera} Week 5 Journal Writing 1 and Final writing Assessment

Module 1 Writing Activity

Pick one of the four topics listed in the Week 5 writing assignment and choose the topic that most appeals to you for your final, peer-reviewed paragraph. Once you’ve made your choice, start with the first step of the writing process, inventing, and try a few of the methods to develop your ideas.  If you find that the topic does not seem to be working, try developing another topic. Once you’ve developed some good ideas for your paragraph, move to the second step, organizing, and construct an outline that you can use for drafting your paragraph.

Topic #2 
Identify and describe a favorite activity or interest and provide at least four reasons why this activity or interest holds your attention and/or is enjoyable to you

cluster (mind mapping) brainstoming week 5

For the purposes of this assignment I chose the  “cluster” brainstorming technique, mentioned in the course and as always I employed an appropriate digital tool for the job, called Mindmeister. Here’s the final paragraph for Week 5′ s final assignment.

Assignment

For the Unit 5 final writing assignment, you will compose a direct paragraph, one that has

  • a title;
  • a clear topic sentence;
  • a fully developed body, which includes necessary and sufficient details and examples;
  • necessary and appropriate transitions;
  • a logical conclusion; and
  • a minimum of fifteen (15) sentences.

Before you submit your paper for peer review, plan to proofread for

  • subject-verb agreement errors,
  • pronoun-antecedent agreement errors,
  • shifts in verb tense,
  • faulty parallel structure, and
  • comma, capitalization, number, word choice, and spelling errors.

You should imagine your peers in this course as your readers/audience. Because of the diverse population of students enrolled in this course, you need to be keenly aware of the need to provide details and examples that are clear and precise. Keeping in mind a living audience, rather than one you imagine, will help you convey more reliably the value of your perspective in the topic upon which you choose to write.

Ninja Zombies: Why gamers like to game

Among recent pop culture trends, gaming is considered one of people’s most favorite pastimes, myself included;  however, video games seem to signify more than a mere pastime. Choosing to spend one’s free time in front a computer or a console constitutes a highly immersive experience, though quite addictive at times, too. First of all, video games are plain fun; while an obvious argument in support of this hobby, it is also a convincing one. For instance, when a player unlocks an achievement, occasional laughter is accompanied by a feeling of self-satisfaction, marking the gaming experience as a personal accomplishment of a difficult task. Furthermore, gamers develop social skills. With the advent of social media and cloud based services they may share game content or feedback on their progress globally, as well as collaborate with people in-game around the world at the same time. On a smaller scale, people playing on a console, like Playstation or XBox, can enjoy themselves with family members at home by simply attaching a separate controller, thus creating a family shared experience. Moreover, game studies have shown that problem solving skills are being boosted throughout interactive media. Gamers, engrossed in the shooter genre, are often more capable of receiving critical decisions quickly. Similarly, strategy video game enthusiasts possess tactics and planning insights. Were you aware that frequent Angry birds players bear a large amount of mathematical and geometrical abilities? Finally, video games personally interest me since they promote vast research interests. As of late, the marketing sector seeks to incorporate game elements in customer services (gamification);  online education providers are also experimenting with gamified content to promote motivation during the learning process. For example, unlocking a badge – a sort of virtual “sticker” on-line as a reward for a task well done – was actually inspired by video games. To sum up, while the majority still frowns upon video games as “a waste of time”, as a member of the digital native generation Y, I tend to regard  them as tools for creativity, inspiration, fun and potentially employment opportunities. Food for thought: are you prepared for a Zombie Apocalypse scenario? Gamers are…

#Consoles and the future of video #games: Op-Ed final project 4:English Composition I – Achieving Expertise {Duke / Coursera}

For the purposes of the final assignment for English Composition I: Achieving Expertise MOOc on Coursera, offered by Duke University we were given the chance to write our own op-ed, regarding a trending headline in the news. My chosen field of expertise was gaming and video games in particular so I am actually dishing on Microsoft’s latest product. I have always felt that PC gaming is superior so here’s my op ed on the matter. As always feedback would be most welcome – The paper is due on Monday!!!!!

Back to the loving arms of a gaming PC

Expert gaming revolves around two things: passion and appropriate equipment. You spend a lot of time battling the forces of Evil but if the pixels are all wrong, this passionate gaming experience ceases to exist. Revealing her newest product, XBOX one, Microsoft recently conveyed the future trend in gaming devices, leaving hints that pure gaming was no longer a part of their plans.

XBOX ONE footage retrieved 30 May 2013 from http://www.enternity.gr

The over hyped, over advertised next generation gaming console took a turn for NFL streams and live television. The device itself looks like a damn VCR from the 80s. Of course, there is nothing wrong with Microsoft’s corporate decision; smart television market shares have sky rocketed so it’s only reasonable they want their fair share of the pie.  The basic problem however is that Xbox was originally meant for gaming, not reality shows and Netflix. It used to be a simple plug-in, plug –and – play process with occasional friendly co-ops.

Even worse, if you happen to live outside the United States, the whole hourly presentation was absolutely pointless. Xbox 360 owners and potential Xbox one buyers were waiting for a torrent of the latest graphic breakthroughs and posh exclusive titles. Instead, they got Call of duty’s German Shepherds (Seriously, CoD will feature dogs now; they went full Sims or something. Never go full Sims.) There was in fact a second game title preview, a car racing title (Forza Motorsport 5), which I will not bother to comment any further.

Indie games and used games lived in a state of symbiosis with the platforms up until recent blurry claims about additional fees concerning them. Again this is seen as a perfectly logical market share move on behalf of the console manufacturers, but not to the best interest of the gamer community (or Gamestop for that matter). I saved the best for last: always –on DRM. Consumer policies and rights went down the drain with this one, I am afraid. To be exact this lovely piece of machinery will supposedly need a 24-hour check in (Big Brother much?) and through state –of-the art biometrics Kinect will be able to sense how many people are in the room watching Oprah.  To refute the ongoing surge of complaints, Microsoft stated that you don’t really have to be online all the time. Nevertheless, of you are not online, game and TV content will not be “strong” enough, as the system won’t exploit the full power of social media and “other” add-ons. Baffling words and a severe case of double standard semantics are paving the way for the much awaited E3 2013 Expo in Los Angeles, where gamers will learn the gory details first hand.

Sony on the other hand is lurking in the shadows having recently exhibited a teaser trailer for the upcoming Playstation 4. Rumors of seizure incidents afterwards have yet to be confirmed. Their next gen gaming console now reaps the benefits of Microsoft’s customer body target turn – and the average gamer’s ongoing rage – but they too need to prove themselves. Nintendo’s Wii U was the first new gen console to take the heat of the increasingly demanding gamers. It did with the Super Mario franchise and the return of Sonic and Donkey Kong. Alas, the average gamer is now an adult. (Zelda still rules though, that much I have to admit).

So, fellow gamers, what’s left for us upon this wretched planet of corporate conglomerate decisions and Kardashian saga overdose?  Well, if you like first / third person shooters and MMO RPGs you most likely skimmed through this text with a sardonic smile. You see there has been a gamer crowd out there who is not the least bit interested in consoles: the PC gamers. Building a gaming PC requires more financial resources than owning a console, yet the processing power and overall value for money will compensate your initial investment. As far as visual quality goes, the  Crytek’s Crysis titles offered a benchmarking challenge for gaming PCs but nothing that couldn’t be rectified with a mere upgrade in the system’s graphic card.

Expert gaming needs by definition state of the art equipment. I do not doubt for a second that XBOX One will be able to accommodate their loyal gamer fanboys. I just don’t find the reason to opt for a console when my gaming PC practically does the same job – even better I might add.

rgMOOC Week one – #Gaming #MMORPG vocabulary / terminology

What are your favourite abbreviations / terms from the gaming jargon? Any stories on how you ‘ve learned their meaning? Are you using any of them in your spoken /written English?

 So, back when I used to be a real noob, and MMO RPGs had only recently appeared, I decide to roll a druid (my very first char) in Vanilla World of Warcraft (vanilla stands for the game’s first instalment). Basically I recall joining a group of players during a dungeon run – no dungeon finder tool back then – and we proceeded to slaughter some naga (serpent-like villain figures).

I don’t remember much (the year was 2006), only that at some point they were all screaming the word “TANK” (caps lock is used for screaming). I was looking back and forth in agony. I knew I had joined a medieval fantasy game. I knew I had spells and armour to fight off meanies. But a tank? G.I. Joe was there somewhere? Military forces from Stormwind? I didn’t have the slightest idea.

Of course, the group was disbanded. I went on with my questing  – solo – and it was only at level 50 when I joined a decent guild explaining me the terms “dps“, “tank“, “healer“.  My shame was unbearable, still I learned a valuable lesson: always help a confused poor noob.

Jargon explained:

noob – > a newbie player, someone just entering a game, clueless.

roll a char -> creating an avatar

dungeon run -> also known as dungeon crawling. Entering an instance shaped like a dungeon/cave, containing lots of mobs with augmented difficulty level and scarcely a resting point.

tank -> player capable of receiving “aggro” (threat), usually being the one who “pulls” mobs (enemy creatures within the game)

healer -> self-explanatory. Responsible for healing group  / raid members – also able to decurse / dispel.

dps -> player who is usually able to inflict large amounts of damage either melee (via weaponry, from a close distance) or magic (via spells from a ranged distance).

Check out the following R-Rated infamous video, showing what it’s like during a raid chat 🙂

English Composition I: Achieving Expertise – Visual image analysis final {Duke/Coursera}

 

Rozalia Zeibeki

English Composition I: Achieving Expertise

Prof. Denise Comer

“Arthas, The Lich King” (1962) by Maryxyan (www.deviantart.com artist)

Approx.1280 x 811 in.

Digital image (created with Photoshop)

Viewed at http://maryxyan.deviantart.com/art/Arthas-The-Lich-King-96293514 (Retrieved: 22 April 2013)

 

 

 

 Gamers’ exploits in World of Warcraft:

Crafting expertise in online phantasy realms

 

Representational images retrieved from the world of video games are meant to grab the viewer’s attention. They consume you to another parallel dimension, where legend and heroism become intrinsic goals of the player that lead to a decisive victory against a “world boss”. What the average viewer perceives as mere graphic art, the gamer connects to his overall progression and success within the immersive digital environment.

Arthas_The_Lich_King_by_Maryxyan

 

 “Your heart…its incessant drumming disgusts me. I will silence it as I did my own.”

 

The dominant subject at hand is that of a man sitting upon what seems to be a frigid throne. Enter Arthas,[1] our protagonist, the prince of Lordaeron,[2] the promised son. He looks skeptical yet one cannot help but notice a small grin; is he contemplating a recent victory or a future one as you glimpse those scarry azure eyes? Despite its static appearance the gaze of Arthas is haunting; the use of cobalt blue heightens the sense of an icy landscape that expands beyond the image: we are now situated at the frozen continent of Northrend. [3] An illuminated sword stands out in front of him, filled with ominous skull details; seven runes etched across the blade form a death curse, still not deciphered to this day. As all epic swords usually do, this one has even got a name: Frostmourne. [4] Shades of gray intervene with silvery notes as one is immersed in a daunting feeling almost like the dark values within the image; how many lives has that sword taken? For an outsider the horror continues as he notices plenty other skull ornaments in the main character’s armor. A dragon encapsulated in ice soon gains our attention in the bottom right, only to serve as another threat. In the background a barely perceptible black tower amidst the fog beckons (spatial illusion); alas, we are in Icecrown [5] – the land of the cursed undead.

As a gamer, surviving against the full power unleashed by Arthas {transformed into the vile Lich King} was a moment of elation in an online PC game called World of Warcraft. The WoW [6] universe is considered by many the epitome of Massively Multiplayer Online Role playing Games. Wikipedia quotes:

“As in all RPGs, players assume the role of a character (often in a fantasy world) and take control over many of that character’s actions. MMORPGs are distinguished from single-player or small multi-player online RPGs by the number of players, and by the game’s persistent world (usually hosted by the game’s publisher), which continues to exist and evolve while the player is offline and away from the game.” [7]

Blizzard Inc., the game’s production company, boasts about its product’s ten million player subscription base. Multiply that number by hours spent individually to build a character and make it to the prized end game content and you will understand that this game is quite serious and extremely profitable.

It takes a lot of time to reach the top ladder of the aforementioned base. Players tend to be rather social, occasionally logging in and dealing with parts of the game that are plain fun. To quote Colvin: For most people, work is hard enough without pushing even harder. Those extra steps are so difficult and painful they almost never get done”. [8] There are those however that fall in the “hardcore” category. These people literally devour hours on end in order to achieve the highest performance. Many go so far as to stay awake at night, just to get that last piece of equipment that is missing from their “epic” gear or repeat the brutal discipline of their practice routines” [8]. In the end, all efforts lead to a last big successful rundown aka the “boss fight”.

Arthas used to be such an opponent of immense power during the “Wrath of the Lich King” [6] expansion. In order to defeat him, players had to learn his tactical maneuvers by heart and deploy countermeasures accordingly. It was a matter of wits, focus, gear level and mechanics. Colvin claims: “You will achieve greatness only through an enormous amount of hard work over many years. And not just any hard work, but work of a particular type that’s demanding and painful.” [8] For Wow players it takes weeks or months, not years yet the other portion of the statement stands true: grandeur in gaming takes copious practice.

To sum up, the image is indicative of reaching expertise in the Warcraft universe since it resembled the game’s final stage fight chief opponent during the expansion. Should the player succeed killing Arthas, he or she is granted with an achievement and a matching title: “the Kingslayer”. [9] The digitalized image of the Lich King might be gruesome to the average Joe; to a gamer it serves as a reminder of paced excellence and ultimate triumph.

References:

  1. Arthas Menethil.” WowWiki. Wikia.Inc. 17 April 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/Arthas_Menethil
  2. Lordaeron.” WowWiki. Wikia.Inc. 21 January 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/Lordaeron
  3. Northrend.” WowWiki. Wikia.Inc. 8 October 2011. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/Northrend
  4. Frostmourne” WowWiki. Wikia.Inc. 29 December 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/Frostmourne
  5. Icecrown.” WowWiki. Wikia.Inc. 3 July 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/Icecrown
  6. World of Warcraft”. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 16 April 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_of_Warcraft
  7.  “Massively multiplayer online role-playing game.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 15 April 20 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massively_multiplayer_online_role-playing_game
  8. Colvin, Geoffrey. “What It Takes to be Great.” Fortune 19 October 2006. Retrieved online 22 April 2013 from http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2006/10/30/8391794/index.htm
  9. The Kingslayer”. WowWiki. Wikia Inc. 28 April 2010. Retrieved 22 April 2013 from http://www.wowwiki.com/The_Kingslayer